Former megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll is in the news again. The allegations are still pretty much the same, but this time he is being taken to court for racketeering. I have never attended Mars Hill (Driscoll's former church) although I have watched a few of his sermons online. Back in his heyday, Driscoll was a big deal and many of my more devout friends were obsessed with him. They loved his books, quoted him often, and spoke of his religious opinions with high regard. Some still defend him stating that the devil is attacking him because he was doing good work.
I was skeptical, as I always am. Firstly, I am skeptical of any leader like Driscoll because they come across as snake oil salesmen. I also do not see the size of any church to be indicative of being blessed or that they are doing God's good work. There are over 7,000 people in the FLDS, but we aren't calling those people blessed. Bestselling books mean nothing, especially after you find out the author (in this case Driscoll) paid a marketing company to make it a best seller. Lastly, one of my issues with the Evangelical church in America is this idea that they are being silenced and so they must speak up, no matter what, in order to be heard. The problem with their speaking up is that they aren't speaking up for the poor or the orphans. They are speaking up about all the evil awful sin they see around them.
As our society has advanced, it has become almost taboo to openly tell someone they are going to hell. It is considered judgmental and rude and not something you do in polite company. Same goes for condemning a couple who lives together but isn't married, or single mothers, divorce, sex, etc. Those people are seen as prudes, intolerant and disregarding the people that stand before them. Many more moderate Christians have abandoned this line of thinking, allowing for a more calm and kind approach. Christians, like the Evangelical ones I know, do not like this. Not only do they believe they have the right to tell people they are going to hell and why, but they have the religious and moral obligation to do so. So they fawn over a man like Driscoll who openly says that he would not have married his wife if he had known she wasn't a virgin. A man who firmly and without question sees men as the leaders and women as "weaker vessels" to be subservient in every way. These Christians need someone like Driscoll to remind them that it is their Godly duty to condemn others and anyone who tries to silence that is the voice of the devil.
I know people like this. One friend told me once that not having babies if you could physically have them was a sin. That God told us to be fruitful and multiply and by not having children I was disobeying God. A couple I knew as a teen had a husband who was obsessed with the notion of being the man of the house. How this manifested was him being ultra-controlling over everything in their home. She once confided to my mom while visiting that she felt like a dirty piece of cloth, her only job was to clean the house and cover the children...although since all her kids were boys her husband told them to treat her as second class. I can't believe they are still married. An associate pastor in one of the churches I attended struggled desperately to get ordained as a minister because he had been divorced and remarried. Even though it was his wife who left him, she even wrote a note to the board telling them as much, but they didn't care. What mattered was the act of divorce, not the issues surrounding the event. And they wanted to be sure that this man of God knew that what he had done was a sin. God may have forgiven him, but they certainly weren't going to.
I am fascinated by this mindset. How can you read the words of Jesus and think that he would be okay with you shouting about weakling men, women as weaker vessels, and fags? Jesus was good friends with two women and at no point treated either with any kind of disdain or otherness. He doesn't appear to have been a gym rat or a macho man. His way of dealing with "sinners" was to have dinner with them and talk about religion. It is highly likely they talked about other stuff too, you know like politics, entertainment, and mutual friends. Not even Paul with all his women issues, went as far as Driscoll and other preachers who are like him have done.
Brimstone and fire preachers have been around forever. They have controlled the masses through fear and intimidation for so long that it is no surprise that people follow them. The major problem is that the religion itself lends to this mindset. Sure, Jesus spoke of love. The Bible is full of stuff about love. But it is also about a God who condemns people to hell, billions of people. A god who condones slavery, genocide, infanticide, and religious superiority. There are Christians who get the whole love thing right, and a whole bunch who...just like their holy book...can't seem to find the balance between love and damnation.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.